Access to information, training and business tools such as the Internet, is one of the greatest challenges facing entrepreneurs in peri-urban and particularly rural areas. To address this, MEDO and Weir Minerals came together to run an entrepreneurship programme targeting the Middelburg, eMalahleni and Delmas areas.
The project began with a Treppie (MEDO’s mobile centre) tour of the area to recruit entrepreneurs and collect data to determine the type and extent of the support required.
“Weir identified Supplier Development as the key to promoting and upholding the National Agenda in creating sustainable and active business partnerships that are tangible and meaningful, ultimately producing business success,” says Gabriel Mahlangu, Human Resources Manager at Weir.
Three important questions were posed to those visiting Treppie to determine their level of entrepreneurship and where they fit into the Programme:
Level 1: Are you an entrepreneur?
Level 2: Do you want to start a business?
Level 3: Do you want to grow your business?
Level 1 – Are you an entrepreneur?
When the team was approached by community members who were not sure if they should be following the route of entrepreneurship, they completed a self-assessment with feedback from the MEDO team if required.
If they believe that they are an entrepreneur they can commence to level 2.
Level 2 – Do you want to start a business?
“Over time, the MEDO team realised that there are many budding entrepreneurs who are interviewed for the 5-day programme who were not at the point where it would be valuable for them,” explains Nolu Tutani, Programme and Events co-ordinator at MEDO.
“They need assistance with starting out and so a one-day workshop was designed for this audience and was run in parallel with the full programme.”
Level 3 – Do you want to grow your business?
For those who have operating businesses that they would like to grow, MEDO invited them to interview for the Foundation Business Skills Programme that included workshops, walk-in-centre support, shared services support and on-going networking.
Only those with registered businesses were accepted onto the Foundation Business Skills Programme, which took place towards the end of 2012.
“The business skills programme was very informative and empowering,” says Josias Motsoeneng, owner of Electromech Maintenance Services. “It focused on the four pillars of business: Marketing and Sales; Cash Flow and Finance; Communication and Products or Services.”
Gabriel concludes: “What is most rewarding is to engage with young, thriving emergent entrepreneurs with the great business acumen to identify opportunities where most of us would willingly step back.”
With the tremendous success of the first programme, a second round of entrepreneur interviews took place in February, in order to commence a Supplier Development Programme later this quarter.